On today's BradCast, good-ish news on several fronts. But only good-ish. That said, we'll take what we can get these days. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]
First up: Hackers have been stealing thousands of credit card numbers and social security numbers from Donald Trump's hotels for months. Years, actually. But, other than that, no need to worry about his ability to oversee our nation's cybersecurity. (Or, for that matter, the security of private voter registration data his so-called "Election Integrity Commission" has requested from all 50 states.)
In related-ish news, Trump is reportedly furious in the wake of Donald Trump Jr.'s recently revealed meeting with a Russian attorney who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton during the campaign last year. But, he's not mad at Trump Jr., he's mad at the media for reporting it, apparently, and at dozens and dozens of sources inside his own White House and otherwise close to him, who keep leaking these sorts of things to the press.
In turn, even Congressional Republicans (including folks like Rep. Trey "Benghazi" Gowdy) are growing increasingly furious at the Administration, as their legislative agenda continues to be sidetracked by the ever-growing turmoil of the seemingly hapless Team Trump.
Nonetheless, Senate Republicans say they are planning to unveil the newest version of their health care repeal on Thursday, with a vote planned for early next week. The good-ish news is that they've reportedly removed some of the huge tax cuts to the wealthy from the bill in hopes of winning enough GOPers for approval in the chamber. But the huge cuts to Medicaid are said to still be in the legislation, which means it may still have the same problem finding 50 votes for passage in the Senate.
All of that, even as a new study finds that the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"), which Republicans hope to dismantle, isn't in the "death spiral" Republicans and Trump continue to pretend it is. In fact, the study finds the landmark health care law is having its best year yet, and is actually more healthy and profitable than ever, despite continuing attempts by the GOP and White House attempts to undermine it.
Finally today, some more good-ish news as the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created in response to the 2007 global banking crisis, has finally enacted a new rule to curb fine-print "arbitration clauses" in contracts that prevent customers from being able to sue banks and credit card companies who are ripping them off.
"We call them 'rip-off clauses' because that is exactly what they do. Many people sign contracts without reading the tiny fine print --- we would say most --- and in those contracts, whether it's with a financial institution, whether it's a credit card, whether it's a cell phone contract, people are foreclosed on the right to sue a company if it wrongs them," Gilbert explains. "If they can't sue, they are instead forced into arbitration. It's a kangaroo court set up. It's something the corporation itself funds and pays for, so you can imagine, it is biased in their direction. Few people ever go to it at all, but when they do, they tend to lose. So it's a way for corporations to get out of jail free if they rip off their customers."
After a 5-year process, the CFPB has finally enacted the regulation as called for by the Dodd-Frank Act. So, naturally, Republicans already have several plans in place to kill it. Unless you stop them...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)